Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

While everyone has dealt with a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other types of cold symptoms because they are less common. One kind of cold you don’t frequently hear about is the one that moves into one or more ears. This kind of cold can be more risky than a common cold and shouldn’t ever be disregarded.

What does it feel like when you have a cold in your ear?

It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your sinuses and ears are connected. This blockage is usually alleviated when you use a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.

But you should never dismiss pain in your ear, even during a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will result in inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to accumulate on the outside of the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid comes with this inflammation. Because it’s a slow leak, it’s most noticeable when you sleep on your side.

This impacts how well you hear over the short term, which is called conductive hearing loss. Sadly, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which results in long-term hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the nerves of the ear, can then take place.

It could be costly if you wait

If you’re experiencing pain in your ear, have your ears tested by us. It’s not unusual for a primary care doctor to wait until the cold goes away because they assume the ear pain will go away with it. A patient may not even remember to mention that they are experiencing actual ear pain. But the infection has likely reached the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re feeling pain. It’s critical that the ear infection be treated immediately to prevent more harm.

In many circumstances, ear pain will remain even after the cold clears up. This is often when a person finally decides to visit a hearing specialist. But, a great deal of damage is usually done by this time. Irreversible hearing loss is often the result and that’s even more true with individuals who get ear infections regularly.

Every time you have an infection, eardrum lacerations and scar tissue can happen which, over time, can affect hearing clarity. The eardrum is a buffer between the inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and functioning in a normal capacity. Ear infections that were previously confined to the middle ear can get into the inner ear if the eardrum is perforated even once. When the infection enters the inner ear, it can irreversibly damage the nerve cells needed to hear.

If you waited to get that ear infection addressed, what should you do?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. A cold with pain in the ear can actually be a more significant cold than most individuals might think. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

We will identify if you’re dealing with conductive, or short-term hearing loss. If this is the situation, you may have an obstruction in your ear that needs to be removed by a professional. If the hearing loss is permanent (sensorineural), we can discuss solutions that will help you hear better, including new hearing technology.

Make an appointment right away if you’re having trouble hearing after a cold.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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